PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING SUSTAINS EARLY-RACE DAMAGE HERCULEAN EFFORT IN PITS RETURNS TEAM TO TRACK FOR POINTS-PAYING FINISH Scott Sharp, piloting the ...
PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING SUSTAINS EARLY-RACE DAMAGE
HERCULEAN EFFORT IN PITS RETURNS TEAM TO TRACK FOR POINTS-PAYING FINISH
Scott Sharp, piloting the #9 Acura ARX-01b, ran near the head of the field at the beginning of Round Four of the American Le Mans Series season. Coming through Turn One on a restart, roughly half an hour into the challenge, Sharp was clipped by Butch Leitzinger in the #20 Dyson Porsche. As Sharp spun from the impact, he was tagged by Christian Fittipaldi in the #26 Andretti Green Acura, damaging Sharp's rear suspension severely. Sharp pitted and the team worked feverishly to get the #9 Acura back in the contest.
"What a shame. We had a just a great car," said Sharp, after handing off driving duties to David Brabham. "We had a little electrical problem at the start of the race. The car wouldn't accelerate properly, especially coming out of the low-speed corners. But we made a few adjustments in the cockpit, changed some settings and we were able to get it running normally. By then, I was about six or seven seconds behind." As Sharp came through Turn One on a restart after a caution period, "I slid down underneath the Dyson car," said Sharp. "Everything was fine. Then, all of a sudden, 'snap.' I think I had a little help there. Then Christian came around, and I was hoping he was going to miss me, but he happened to hit me at an angle that just clobbered the rear suspension. It's a real shame. The guys have done an amazing job all week. For the team to do a major front-suspension change on the first test day so quickly, then change the rear suspension today and get us back out there so fast, really shows how tightly this team is working. So, even though we were relegated to just running for points, thanks to their efforts, at least we'll be able to score some."
After the crew's stellar job in returning the # 9 car to the track, Brabham drove until the conclusion of the two-hour, 45-minute event. Due to its perseverance, the team - which earned its first-ever LMP2 class victory at the Long Beach Grand Prix last month - completed the minimum 70 percent race distance requirement to earn points toward the championship.
"Obviously we're all disappointed today, and probably no one more than Scott," said Brabham while relaxing after the race. "Even though we sustained significant damage to the rear suspension, the team did a great job getting us back out there. At the beginning of my run, I had a problem with the rear of the car due to the oil on Turns One and Two. The car just felt odd, so I was very careful. But the team said we had to push more to get to the required 70 percent distance. The car responded beautifully and just kept getting better and better. We were doing pretty good lap times in the end and achieved our objective, which was to get points."
Team owner Duncan Dayton agreed. "We salvaged two points, which was great. For the crew to get the car repaired and running so fast was terrific. And, our lap times were right up there at the end of the race. The car was just fantastic. Scott had trouble at the restart - started third, improved to second and then, just got tagged. It's one of those high-speed balletic dance moves - someone steps on your toe and it all goes wrong. Nevertheless, we made the best of an unfortunate event and two points is two points. Hopefully we'll make it up by the end of the season."